Biden Admin & 13 European Countries Loudly Condemn Israel’s 3,000 New Settler Homes In West Bank
After the Biden administration condemned newly unveiled Israeli plans to move forward on building some 3,000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank earlier in the week, a dozen European countries followed the US on Thursday and penned a scathing letter, also demanding the reversal of the controversial expansion.
Initially on Wednesday State Department spokesman Ned Price said “We are deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s plan to advance thousands of settlement units tomorrow, Wednesday, many of them deep in the West Bank.” He added: “We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution.”
It comes amid strained ties between the White House and the United States’ closest Middle East ally, particularly as Biden is seen as reneging on some key Trump policies, for example moving forward on plans to open a Jerusalem consulate to Palestinians, which Israel sees as ‘illegal’ given official US recognition of the city as Israel’s capital (a key change by Trump).
According to The Times of Israel on Thursday:
The Israeli Defense Ministry’s higher planning council that approves new settlements said 1,804 units were given the final approval for construction, and another 1,326 units were advanced to a stage of preliminary approval.The move came a day after the Biden administration condemned Israel’s plans.
Days ago Secretary of State Antony Blinken phoned Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz to condemn the move as “unacceptable” – given the huge number of units being located in the West Bank will likely explode tensions with the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the fresh joint European condemnation included France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. They said:
“We urge the Government of Israel to reverse its decision to advance plans for the construction of around 3,000 settlement units in the West Bank,” the foreign ministries of the 12 said.
“We reiterate our strong opposition to its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which violates international law and undermines efforts for the two-state solution,” they said.
Israel approves over 3,000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank following strongest US rebuke of their construction to date pic.twitter.com/LvhH4KCtq5
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) October 28, 2021
Despite the growing global pressure on Tel Aviv, Israeli leaders are used to receiving such criticisms from European quarters; however, it’s the added pressure from Washington that’s new – especially when compared to the permissive stance on moves seen as anti-Palestinian previously coming from the Trump administration.
For now, it looks like the government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is determined to move forward with the construction, potentially triggering a new round of fighting as Palestinians take to the streets.
Fri, 10/29/2021 – 05:45